Mark Burns: From Banking and Nightclubs to Leading Hair Development

Published by Gary Ellis on May 24th 2024, 9:04am

Mark Burns MTTS, Managing Director of Hair Development, wasn’t always a hair expert. 

“After leaving school I went straight into Barclays Bank,” he recalls. “The banking sector, with its promise of job security, seemed an appealing choice for a young school leaver.”

Mark spent 19 years at Barclays, working in their fraud investigations head office. “It was back when cheques were big,” he explains. However, as cheques began to die out, he found himself at a crossroads.

“I started dabbling in DJing back in the early 90’s and enjoyed it, so I did it alongside work. Three days in Barclays and three days in nightclubs,” he shares. When Barclays offered redundancy packages, there was an opportunity to pursue his passion for DJing full time and his entrepreneurial spirit led him to part-time courier driving, where he bought his own van and eventually expanded to owning five vans, renting out four to other drivers. However, a harsh reality check came when three of the vans were stolen, all with the keys left in them by the drivers. 

Around the same time, Mark’s Uncle Stan approached him with a job offer. Stanley Levy MTTS, CEO and founding father of Hair Development was looking for a new manager. Despite his initial reluctance, Mark’s wife had joined the company and convinced him of its potential. “It’s an amazing, serious business,” she told him.

In 2010, Mark joined Hair Development, a company with 50 years of expertise, bringing with him a wealth of experience from his diverse professional background. “I think because I left school with the basics and then through working at Barclays, I have a good insight into how corporations work,” he reflects.

At Hair Development, the focus was on bringing more structure to the family business, reinvesting and expanding.” As he puts it, “We had to make ourselves appealing as well as being the only place that could supply clients with their services.” 

Challenges and Trends: A Closer Look at Hair Development

Mark is no stranger to the challenges and trends shaping the hair industry. “We’re in a good position where we have our retail HQ in London, our new wholesale operation in Chelmsford as well as branding and supplying laser hair re-growth therapy machines and HD non-surgical hair replacement systems and extensions,” he explains, highlighting the company’s unique dual-market approach, “and of course, our training academies in both locations.”

Hair Development caters to a broad clientele, from individuals undergoing chemotherapy, young men experiencing hair loss, to cinematic and theatrical productions. Alongside manufacturing, branding and developing innovative solutions and packages.

However, there has been a significant shift. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the clientele is getting younger,” observes Mark, adding that more people in their early 20s are becoming conscious of hair loss.

The COVID-19 pandemic, with many women experiencing hair thinning due to long COVID stress, has seen an increase in business too. “The clientele base is expanding, and people are definitely looking at ways to better themselves,” he says.

The pandemic, however, posed significant challenges for Hair Development. With lockdowns in place, the company faced difficulties in manufacturing their hair replacement systems. Inventory levels took a hit but have since returned to pre-COVID numbers. 

Hair Development adapted to the changing circumstances. During the first lockdown, they conducted video calls with clients for reassurance and guidance. In the second lockdown, they were able to open with medical exemption, albeit with restrictions.

Leadership and Ethics: The Guiding Principles of Hair Development

Mark also shares his insights on what it means to be an effective leader in the hair industry. “You have to be a good, honest leader and we treat our clients and staff with the utmost respect. Hair Development’s commitment to ethical practices is another cornerstone of our leadership approach.”

Emphasising the importance of nurturing the skills and potential of HD staff. “HD have developed education programmes where we train barbers, hairstylists and professionals in hair replacement and extensions,” he says. This initiative not only enhances the skills of their staff and HD clients, but also empowers them to become educators and we remain leaders also by reassuring other businesses.

The company’s reputation as a reliable and consistent brand in the industry exceeds itself. “We’ve been around for 50 years, no one can compare with that in this industry.” While acknowledging the influence of branding and celebrity endorsements, Mark maintains that the focus should be on the health aspects and personal care that they provide. 

The Future of Hair Development

Mark and his cousin and business partner Janis Levy MTTS, Stanley’s daughter and former Hollywood actress and model, have a clear vision for the future of Hair Development. “It’s to be the most ethical supplier and source of hair replacement,” he states, underlining his commitment to ethical business practices.

What’s more, the HD Managing Director is always mindful of the future and the need for succession planning, “HD is proud of its longevity abilities, respect in the industry and career progress and we would encourage clients and professionals to always reach out to us.”

“Our vision for Hair Development extends beyond personal involvement,” Mark states, “we want the company to continue being a leader in the industry. “Hair Development has been here for 50 years, and we plan to be here for the next 50 years, for the positive betterment of our industry,” he affirms. 

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Authored By

Gary Ellis
Senior Editor
May 24th 2024, 9:04am

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